2021 Code Review

Historical Background

The Code is the fundamental and universal document upon which the World Anti-Doping Program is based. Its purpose is to advance the anti-doping effort through universal harmonization of core anti-doping elements. It is intended to be specific enough to achieve complete harmonization on issues where uniformity is required, yet general enough in other areas to permit flexibility on how agreed-upon anti-doping principles are implemented. The Code has been drafted giving consideration to the principles of proportionality and human rights.

In January 2003, the first Code was approved in Copenhagen, during the Second World Conference on Doping in Sport. At the time, WADA committed to ensuring that the Code would be a living document, subject to periodic review. In keeping with that commitment, in February 2006 and November 2011, WADA’s Foundation Board initiated Review Processes with amendments being incorporated within the 2009 and 2015 Codes respectively.

Today’s 2021 Code Review Process

On 16 November 2017, WADA’s Foundation Board initiated the 2021 Code Review Process, which will also involve simultaneous review of the International Standards. In short, the Process entails:

  • A two-year, three-phase, stakeholder consultation as summarized in the 2021 Code Review Process: Schedule below;
  • Circulation of multiple drafts of proposed Code amendments; 
  • A final draft Code being presented for consideration and approval at the fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport, to be held in November 2019 in Katowice, Poland; and
  • The revised, 2021 Code, entering into effect on 1 January 2021. 

2021 Code Drafting Team

As in the past, the 2021 Code Review Process will be driven by a small Code Drafting Team comprised of senior WADA staff and external experts; namely:

  • Richard Young (Attorney, main drafter);
  • Ulrich Haas (Professor of Law);
  • Liz Riley (Attorney);
  • Ben Sandford (Attorney and Member of WADA Athlete Committee);
  • Tim Ricketts (WADA Director, Standards and Harmonization); and
  • Julien Sieveking (WADA Director, Legal Affairs).

The Code Drafting Team’s goal is to solicit stakeholder feedback; and, incorporate the best feedback into successive working drafts of the 2021 Code. In the past, as a result of stakeholder consultation/dialogue, the Team has been successful in building consensus on the best stakeholder feedback. Where there is no consensus, WADA’s Executive Committee, acting as the steering body for the Team, decides which diverging stakeholder views should be incorporated within the successive drafts.

Limited Scope of Review

Before addressing the scope of the 2021 Code Review Process, we think that it is important to acknowledge that the current 2015 Code has been very well received by all Stakeholders and is highly regarded as being a fair and effective document to advance the anti-doping effort in sport. The rules that the current Code sets forth have consistently been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and other courts; and, there is broad support for most of its basic principles; for example: the concept of strict liability; the ability to prove doping through evidence without an adverse analytical finding; the four-year sanction for intentional doping; and, recognition that some mitigation of sanctions based on the degree of fault is appropriate.

There are however a few principles, which have been hotly debated twice since the first version of the Code, where consensus has not been reached; for example: whether the potential to enhance performance should be a mandatory criteria for placing a substance on the Prohibited List. Rather than attempt to revisit old ground, it is understandable that WADA’s Foundation Board has directed the Code Drafting Team to limit the scope of the review (as compared to the previous reviews) and focus primarily on new views and arguments, which will make the Code more effective. Of course, as in the past, the Team will carefully consider all stakeholder feedback.

In anticipation of the 2021 Code Review Process, WADA has been compiling a running list of stakeholder feedback related to the Code which has come about through a variety of means. For example, as part of its regulatory oversight responsibility, WADA reviews all legal decisions by Anti-Doping Organizations and CAS in application of the Code (approximately 2,500 / year); and therefore, has a good understanding of the Code provisions that are subject to misinterpretation or misapplication.  Also, WADA has taken due note of suggestions submitted by stakeholders and solicited Code amendment suggestions from its ad-hoc legal committee and other lawyers that are regularly involved in advising clients and arguing cases applying the Code. 

Based on all this, we would draw your attention to the document "2021 World Anti-Doping Code Review: Questions to Discuss and Consider", which summarizes questions that we currently consider should be addressed. It is intended to generate stakeholder feedback; yet, it is not intended as exhaustive nor to exclude other good views as to how the Code could be improved.

the process

On 12 December 2017, WADA launched the first phase of the 2021 Code Review Process, which closed on 31 March.

On 4 June 2018, WADA launched:

  • the first review phase of a number of International Standards.  Unless otherwise noted below and in the 2021 Code Review Process: Schedule, the Agency is soliciting stakeholder feedback by 14 September 2018. 

1. The International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemption (ISTUE).

2. The International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories (ISCCS), which took effect on 1 April 2018.

3. The International Standard for Education, which is a new Standard that WADA’s Board approved for development in November 2017; and, is now ready for first stakeholder feedback.

4. The International Standard for Results Management, which is also a new Standard being developed that was presented to WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) and Board in May 2018. The first draft of the Standard will be validated by the ExCo in November 2018; and then, be circulated for stakeholder consultation during the third phase of the Code review and the second phase of the Standard review from December 2018 to March 2019. There will only be one consultation phase for this Standard.

5. The International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information (ISPPPI), which is the new version adopted by WADA’s ExCo in May 2018 to ensure alignment with the main principles of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation that came into force on 25 May.

6. The International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI), which will undergo two full rounds of consultation. The ISTI is also distributed with marked up text to two sections for reasons outlined below.

  • Due to issues faced with sample collection equipment earlier this year, WADA appointed a small working group to enhance the criteria for equipment in the ISTI. Additional criteria have been included within Article 6.3.4 of a draft revised ISTI for stakeholder comment.
  • Over the past few years, WADA has received input from stakeholders, particularly Athlete Biological Passport experts and Athlete Passport Management Units (APMUs), which proposes changes to Annex L of the ISTI.

Following the first round of consultation on the ISTI and consideration of all comments from stakeholders changes to the above two sections of the ISTI, it will be submitted for approval at WADA’s ExCo meeting in November 2018; which, if approved, would come into effect in early 2019.

Other proposed changes to the ISTI, following the first phase, will be circulated to stakeholders in a revised version as part of the second review phase of the International Standards from December 2018 to March 2019.  After this, another revised version will be submitted for ExCo’s approval at the World Conference in November 2019 that will come into effect in 2021.

7. The International Standard for Laboratories (ISL), which is a particular situation. It should be noted that a revised version of the ISL was already circulated to WADA-accredited laboratories for comment; and that, a second version will be circulated to all stakeholders on 14 July with an opportunity to comment until 14 September. This particular review of the ISL was triggered by some urgent changes that could not reasonably wait until 2021.  It is foreseen that a revised version (10.0) of the ISL will come into force in 2019. The ISL may then undergo further revision in 2020 to bring it in line with the 2021 Code.

The International Standard for the Prohibited List is not part of this review process as it is reviewed annually via a separate stakeholder consultation.

As is the case for the Code Review, each Standard will have dedicated drafting teams comprised of senior WADA staff and external experts that will act as the review secretariat.

[Note: At this point, the Code and Standard documents are available in English only.]

To Submit Feedback 

As indicated above, unless otherwise indicated, for this phase, we would ask you to propose recommendations no later than 14 September 2018 via WADAConnect, the Agency’s online consultation platform. Easy to use, WADAConnect will prompt you to create a user account and input your comments regarding aspects of the Code and/or Standards that are of particular interest to you. For more information related to WADAConnect, please refer to the simple user guide.

Stakeholders are asked, to the extent possible, to draw on practical experiences and propose recommendations that would benefit the fight for clean sport worldwide. In addition, stakeholders are asked to be as specific and clear as possible when making submissions, i.e. by proposing text to replace the existing text.

Please note that, in the interest of transparency, WADA will publish all comments on its website at the end of each phase of the consultation process; and that, unless otherwise notified, stakeholder credentials (i.e. username, organization and organization type) will be posted along with the comments.

We look forward to receiving your feedback. The high quality of stakeholder feedback that was collected during the 2009 and 2015 Code Review Processes was instrumental to ensuring that the Code be strengthened over time in protection of clean sport.

For more information

We look forward to receiving your feedback. If you have any questions about this process, please contact: code@wada-ama.org